New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel

New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel

A few months ago, I went in to Target to re-up on WetLine Xtreme Gel. As I scanned the shelf, I realized that the blazing neon green lid on my beloved 35.28oz jar had been replaced with a much more subtle navy one.

Like the green lid jar, this one claimed to have 24-hour holding power, so I assumed it was just a brand refresh with a new label. I purchased the jar, stashed it (since I still had an open one at home), and didn't think twice.

Within a few weeks, I was receiving DMs curious about whether WetLine was doing what so many other brands have done — pulling the old formula bait and switch. Swapping costly ingredients for cheaper (and sometimes more harmful) ones. A few had even expressed concern about the potential harm of the new formula.

I hadn't cracked the lid on my new jar yet — and I had no plans to until I got to the bottom of things. To find out what's really going on, keep reading!

The Old WetLine Extreme Gel

Product Ingredients
    New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel
  • Water
  • Triethanolamine: Strong alkaline substance used as a surfectant, emulsifying agent, and pH adjuster.
  • Polyacrilyc Acid: Polymer of acrylic acid, commonly known as carbomer. Used as a binder, film former, and viscosity increasing agent.
  • Carbomer: Chemical composed of acrylic acid monomers that acts as a viscosity controlling agent (thickener).
  • Glycerin: Generally vegetable-based humectant that absorbs and retains moisture from the air.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: Informally known as "waterlock", it is a water-absorbing polymer that functions as an emulsion stabilizer, hair fixative, film former, skin conditioner, and thickener.
  • Parfum (Fragrance)
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Fragrance and flavor ingredient that also acts as a preservative. Derived from naturally occurring plants or synthetically prepared, benzyl alcohol is in no way related to drying alcohol. 
  • Tetrasodium EDTA: Fragrance and preservative ingredient designed to bind to and inactivate metal ions — helping to maintain clarity, protect fragrance, and prevent rancidity.
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone: Preservative ingredient known to be a skin allergen.
  • Methylisothiazolinone: Widely-used preservative ingredient known to be a skin allergen. Also potentially neurotoxic, but more research is required.
  • Panthenol: Vitamin B5, known for quick absorption into hair and providing moisture control.
  • Methoxycinnamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine: Hair conditioning agent and UV light absorber.
  • Ext. Violet 2: Synthetic colorant.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Acts as a natural conditioning agent that restores the hair's sheen, luster, and shine. It not only makes the hair soft, but it also enhances strength and suppleness.

 The "New" WetLine Extreme Gel

Product Ingredients (underline indicates a different ingredient from the original formula)
    New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel
  • Water
  • Glycerin: See old formula above.
  • Carbomer: See old formula above.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: Also known as lye — acts as a ph adjuster and buffering agent.
  • Polyacrylate-2 Crosspolymer: Polymer designed to provide "superhold" properties.
  • Phenoxyethanol: Preservative and fragrance ingredient.
  • Parfum (Fragrance)
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: See old formula above.
  • Tetrasodium EDTA: See old formula above.
  • Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: Water-based preservative ingredient. Also known to cause contact allergy issues, and is acutely toxic if inhaled.
  • Hydroxycitronellal: Synthetic scent ingredient used to provide fragrance and mask odors. Also a known allergen.
  • Panthenol: See old formula above.
  • Methoxycinnamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine: See old formula above.
  • Ext. Violet 2: See old formula above.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: See old formula above.

My Thoughts: Formula Changes
At first, I thought the changes in formula might've been minor — a preservative here, a slip/consistency ingredient there. I. Was. Wrong.

When I finally got around to opening the blue lid jar, I immediately noticed a difference in consistency. The "new" WetLine didn't seem quite as thick as before — definitely a little more on the slippery side. I attribute that to the push of glycerin further up the list. Before even considering a trial run with this jar, I had to do more research on one particular ingredient that seemed a little *too* far up the list for my comfort — sodium hydroxide aka lye.

Yes, lye as in relaxer lye.

I know lye is a necessary component for saponification (soap making), I just didn't understand why it needed to be in my gel.

I immediately went to my trusted source for all things science and hair — The Natural Haven. And in true form, sis did not disappoint. In this article from BGLH (throwback, I know), Jc shares:
" can take as little as 3–5 drops of sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH from very acidic (2/3) to a more skin, scalp and hair friendly pH of around 5–7. As a buffer, the hydroxide ions work to maintain this pH of 5–7 so that it does not change as you use it or possibly put in some small amounts of contaminants e.g if you scoop your conditioner out a jar, your hand may have water or gel or oil on it which could disrupt the conditioner pH. Sodium hydroxide takes care of that."
TLDR: sodium hydroxide (lye) makes very acidic hair products usable, and helps maintain their pH stability/integrity, in spite of what may enter the container (water from your hand, other products on accident, etc.). 

After doing a bit more research on the immediate ingredients surrounding sodium hydroxide (carbomer and polyacrylate-2 crosspolymer), I learned that both were very acidic, with pHs that range  from 2 to 3.5, respectively. Understanding this (plus the fact that my hair loves carbomer), made me a little more comfortable with lye.

My Thoughts: Product Performance
As with any changes to products that I feel didn't need changing in the first place, I was annoyed at first. But then I thought to myself, just go ahead and give it a whirl. Upon application, I immediately noticed the new formula had more slip, but didn't feel as weighty as the old one. In my book, that's a bit of a disappointment, because y'all know I like my gels thicky-thick and heavy.

Slick application aside, I noticed as I did my hair, my trouble sections still appeared to be...troublesome. In my crown and along the front, I witnessed my hair begin to frizz back up shortly after application. I trudged along and hoped for the best.

New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel
wash and go with tgin leave-in and this newfangled WetLine ish

After sitting under the dryer and going about my normal cast-breaking routine, I banded my hair for the night and played the waiting game. The verdict:

  • The price hasn't really changed. Around $4 for 35oz of product is still a steal (kinda)
  • Slip in a gel is always nice...
  • It played nicely with my fave tgin Green Tea Leave-In (just like the old formula)
  • It still created a gel cast
  • Some of the more suspect preservatives are gone
  • The hold isn't the same... it just... isn't
  • Gel feels more watery
  • I have to double up on gel in my low porosity sections, making my hair more flake-prone
  • The shine is gone. IDK where it went, but it ain't here.
  • My day 3/4 hair looks a lot frizzier by comparison
  • My hair feels dry after 3 days
  • I feel like we traded in sus preservatives for more allergens — which doesn't bode well for my sensitive scalp
The Bottom Line
I won't drag this along any further. I'm. Not. Feeling. It. At. All.

New Lid = New Formula? The 411 on WetLine Xtreme Gel
Old formula wash and go with tgin leave-in, for reference.

The new formula just doesn't hit like the old one. If anything, they should've kept the OG green lid and made this new formula a part of a new line. The new formula claims to have "improved fixation" and level 10, 24-hour hold. I'm not convinced. Level 7 or 8 hold, maaaaybe if you use a lot. But 10?


Green lid was a solid 10, and I'm gonna miss it. Back to old faithful (red lid EcoStyler) I go!

Have you tried the new WetLine Xtreme Gel formula? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to follow me on Instagram!


  1. I wonder why companies do formula changes on loved products instead of creating a new product and selling alongside the old.

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  3. Seriously though! Why change a good thing? I also love the old Wetline formula, surprisingly, yours is the first bad review I've seen. The few naturals who have been doing reviews on it have been liking it, but I don't like glycerin being so high up in the ingredients list, nor do I like the new consistency. I may have to pass on this and find a new alternative.